Multi-Sensory Handwriting as an Effective Treatment for Dyslexia
Dyslexia along with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have invaded American classrooms over the past 30 years. Dyslexia causes children to have difficulty reading. This is a learning disability which challenges educators. A child with dyslexia is more stressed because he or she is lagging behind in school. What has caused this increase in the number of children diagnosed with dyslexia and ADD/ADHD. How did we reach such an appalling point?
Several glaring classroom and societal issues have emerged over the last 50 years that quietly influenced the learning process. Ask the old timers, and they remember a major issue -- practicing good old fashioned penmanshipfor a few years, not a few weeks as is common today. Research agrees with their perspective. Albeit largely unrecognized by educators, nothing else done in the classroom can begin to compare with the intensive stimulation that handwriting creates. Which in turn, positivly influences the ability to learn to read. Can dyslexia be an issue that's intensified because of lack of adequate handwriting stimulation?While this perspective is not advanced by educators, they fail to understand the deeper implications of handwriting's physiological/psychological link in the brain.
Handwriting is a powerful treatment for dyslexia. Using age-appropriate multi-sensory handwriting exercises at the preschool/kindergarten level with therapeutic music profoundly impacts the young brain, as it primes the brain for the learning process! Adding music to the movement process is guaranteed to make a huge difference -- it activates and brings online the left brain, the "brain that goes to school". The left brain must be dominant before a child can learn to read. More importantly, it must be online before pressure on learning to read begins. If not, the stress and anxiety generated can result in a learning disability.
Society's detrimental influences which quietly impact the learning process are television, video games, divorce, daycare, etc. Increased use of whole language (a method for teaching reading) denies the left brain's use of phonics as a primary technique in learning to read. This,combined with the lack of penmanship training have gravely deprived young brains of essential regulated stimulation. Handwriting today is grossly neglected, yet, phonics and penmanship are essential for a dyslexic child. Both deny the brain the phenomenal benefits of movement which profoundly affects the learning process. Add it all up and it's hardly a surprise that Denver public schools have 57% of students in 3rd to 8th grade who can't read at grade level.
My handwriting program can remediate the effects of dyslexia, ADD, and ADHD by supplying massive regulated stimulation through movement. John Ratey, M.D., in TheUser's Guide to the Brain indicates movement is a fundamental basis for learning! While handwriting influences the ability to learn to read, few educators are aware of this feat since they receive no training in the subject. Gaining a better understanding of recent brain research and handwriting's deeper implications would help them learn why handwriting creates intense neural activity that provides irreplaceable influence on the entire brain. As such, my Retrain The Brain program has the inherent capacity to influence dyslexia. The stimulation in the left brain - right hand connection causes an increase in blood flow which brings nutrients to enrich the brain's growth.
Dyslexia research indicates that the issue of dyslexia is tied to the cerebellum, a small, double lobed organ, at the base of the brain. However, failing to stress handwriting fails to activate the cerebellum which governs movement. It has strong connections with the cortex, the thinking brain. As the human cerebellum contains more nerve cells (neurons) than all the rest of the brain combined, ithas phenomenal processing power. But it must be tapped via handwriting in order to gain its benefits!
Even more important is that the neural activity of the cerebellum's right lobe is sent directly to the cortex of the left hemisphere where the language capacities are located! Researchers Heneritta and Allen Lenier summarize years of research on the cerebellum. They state, "Anatomical evidence and behavioral evidence combine to suggest that this enlarged cerebellum (in the human brain) contributes not only to motor function, but also to some sensory, cognitive, linguistic, and emotional aspects of behaviors." This reveals why handwriting's plays such a vital role in "training the brain."
An article by D.B. Willingham in Psychological Review (July, 1998) states "A neuropsychological theory of motor skill learning is based on the idea that learning grows directly out of motor control processes." Handwriting is a motor skill. Its repetitive action develops impulse control for ADD ADHD while priming the brain for the learning process.It's time to use the strong stress on multi-sensory penmanship as a treatment to derail dyslexia. Nothing else has the vast potential to impact the brain so dyslexia can fade into the background in the classroom.